The ‘is’ and ‘isn’ts’ of Speech and Language Therapy

A Grain of SaLT


When people ask me what I do and I tell them I’m a Speech and Language Therapist, I’m usually met with 1 of 3 responses:

Response 1- “Oh, I better make sure that I speak properly around you!”

Response 2- “So you work with people who stammer?”

Response 3- “What, with your accent?!” (I’m from Northern Ireland and I work in England…This seems to blow some people’s minds…!!)

It strikes me that Speech and Language Therapy is quite a misunderstood profession.

It doesn’t necessarily bother me that people don’t understand what I do. What concerns me is that if people don’t fully understand the remit of a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT), children with more subtle speech and language difficulties may fly under the radar. They may not be referred for speech therapy because parents or educators may not see the child’s difficulties as being ‘language’ related.

The statistics for…

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A sprinkle of ‘Pepper’- How to be an effective communication partner

A Grain of SaLT

We’ve all been there- that moment when a friend or colleague introduces you to someone new at a party or a work function.

You greet each other and then your friend gradually steps away…

And that’s when you realise that this conversation is not going to ‘flow’.

You struggle to find common ground. That horrible, awkward feeling starts to infiltrate the atmosphere. Speaking is so effortful that you frantically concoct a reason to excuse yourself…

I think of this feeling when I consider how some of the children who I work with must feel, especially when they are learning to use a communication aid.

They know that some people ‘get it’ and will help them to feel relaxed, making it easier for them to communicate. But others? Well, it’s like the party analogy; communication breaks down and everything just feels uncomfortable.

We want to strike the right balance-  supporting our…

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Don’t retaliate, educate……….

I am River


I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking recently about how much I want to spread a positive outlook regarding Down syndrome, and about whether or not I am doing enough. I’ve been thinking about the best ways of raising awareness, and how I and other members of the Ds community are working so hard at achieving a better society for our children. I’m trying to share Rivers’ story and show the world through the internet that there is nothing to fear. I want to show that life with Ds can be amazing for not only the person with the special needs, but also their family and I feel that I am slowly starting to achieve a small part of that.

I’ve joined groups on Facebook specifically for parents of children with Ds, and I can’t even express how beneficial this has been for me. Living in Tanzania can be…

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Introducing Our Trainee Therapy Puppy.


I would like to introduce you to Doodles the Schnoodle. Doodles is our school trainee therapy puppy. He is 15 weeks old today and has just completed his first full week in school.

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Here he is being introduced to one of the older students.

I have watched with interest as many of the mainstream schools in our locality have introduced therapy dogs to their schools. The high school next door to us has two therapy dogs and I began to do some research around the subject. I found that they have many uses and I could see how valuable one would be for our children who have various medical and physical special needs. How to convince our Head Teacher?

I broached the subject with her and she went off to conduct her own research. A couple of conversations later I can report that we have a thoroughly enlightened head teacher…

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Communication on tour!

A Grain of SaLT

When I started working as a Speech and Language Therapist, I was based in a clinic- One small room, with one large, bright window. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining- some Speech Therapists don’t even have a window…!

Even on wet, drizzly days (which was the norm, as I was working in Northern Ireland!), I used to glance out the window between appointments and think, “That’s where all the proper communication is happening- beyond that window!”

When I started working in schools, I could stretch my legs a bit more- joining students in the occasional cookery lesson, making use of the sensory room, sometimes even venturing outside with the children into the playground…it felt like a little taste of freedom!

So when some of my forward-thinking colleagues invited me to join them on trips beyond the confines of the school gate to support some of our students using alternative forms…

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‘Preparation for the next stage of education’ Supporting pupils with SEND in their transition to high school


Whilst we all accept change is a part of life and change can be a good thing, never the less change can be hard. We all find comfort in things which are familiar and have ways that we prepare ourselves for changes ahead of us.

In the context of school life, transition from primary to secondary school is one of the biggest changes and whilst opening up lots of new and exciting opportunities, can also provoke anxiety for all pupils. For pupils with SEND, this is particularly the case. It is often in our experience a really difficult time for families too as they worry about their little ones making this next big step.

In this blog I write from our own experience @camberwellparkschool in supporting our pupils and their families through the experience in order to make it as positive and successful as possible.

Whilst this blog is…

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A Book Review


This half term I have been super busy! Far busier than is recommended for a holiday period. I have barely had time to eat, sleep or rest, the reason is an incredibly cute black ball of fluff known as Noodles. He is 14 weeks old and is going to be our school therapy dog. I am exhausted from training this little fella but I’m sure he’ll be worth it when we see the benefits the children gain from having him around. More about Noodles another time.


The one task I did set myself apart from puppy training was to complete a book review.

How to support Pupils with Autistic Spectrum Condition in Primary School by Lynn McCann

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 I have been waiting for some time to review this book by Lynn McCann. It is now my absolute pleasure to share with you my thoughts on it.

The book begins…

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Blood, Sweat and Tears

The Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy

I sent out a tweet the other day.  It was a little, innocuous retweet of a picture of a little girl, trying on her school uniform for the first time.  In it, she is clapping her hands, as pleased as punch to be wearing a blue checked dress, her hair in a ponytail, shiny black shoes as neat as a pin.  Clearly, her parents were pleased as punch too because they sent it out to some big hitters in the Down’s syndrome tweeterverse.  I saw it and I was glad to share it with the many teachers with whom I am connected in a virtual sense.

It had a surprisingly large effect.  To date, it has had 32 retweets (which…

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It’s easy to get a diagnosis of ADHD for your child


I received a copy of a letter to my son’s GP today, dated 9th May 2017.

It said:

Dear Dr X,

Thank you for your referral of Kipper to the Local CAMHS triage team. We have now received all the screening questionnaires back from the family and the school and these have been reviewed.

Having considered all the information presented to us, the evidence across the home and the school environment DOES NOT support the need for further ADHD assessment at this time.

The Connors’ questionnaires completed by the parents and Kipper are significant for ADHDH concerns, although the Teacher Connors’ questionnaire reports concerns that are significant for inattention but not hyperactivity and impulsivity. The school observation form suggests attention can vary and organisation is good unless unfamiliar routine. However, the Educational Psychologist gives more evidence of distraction and attention difficulties in the context of ASD i.e. difficulties understanding language…

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Physical Contact in Schools


There’s been a lot in the press in the last few weeks regarding physical contact in schools. In June last year the  Guardian’s Secret Teacher wrote an article condemning the use of restraint in our schools. The teacher in the article described the experience as harrowing with impractical training. The teacher in question talked of inadequate stand off times where the child should calm down and allow the teacher to diffuse the situation. The child finds this impossible due to being pinned to the floor in a humiliating and degrading manner. In fact, until 2010 the waters seemed very muddy on the issue of touching children in schools. I’m no fan of Michael Gove but he did suggest the rules be clarified once and for all which is a good thing. You can read an article from BBC news here concerning Gove’s changes.

Physical  contact in schools raises a…

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